Chubb Survey: Attic Storage Can Cause Homeowner Grief, Hazards

December 4, 2014

Homeowners who don’t pay attention to what’s going on in their attics can face costly damage that can spread throughout their entire home, warns a new survey sponsored by the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.

According to the survey of 1,000 adults, a little more than half of homeowners—some 52 percent—have discovered critters such as mice, squirrels, bats and bees living in their attics; meanwhile, one in 10 homeowners have never even seen their attics.

Rodents in the attic can be a nuisance at best, and if they are not eradicated quickly, they can become home wreckers, as squirrels and rats have been known to chew through electrical wires in attics, the company said in a statement. While this almost always ends badly for the animals, sparks from their gnawing can set the house on fire.

Many attics also house mechanical equipment, such as central air conditioning systems, exhaust fans, electrical junction boxes and plumbing. Homeowners should regularly make sure that any system that is connected to an electrical or water source in their attic is in good working condition, as a burst pipe or a clogged drain in the attic could lead to widespread water damage on the floors below, the company added.

Adding to the risk of loss, many homeowners store valuables, such as antiques, art and family heirlooms, in their attics. Three out of four survey respondents, or some 77 percent, said they use their attics for storage of seasonal clothing, luggage, family photographs, memorabilia and other items. These valuables are often exposed to significant temperature fluctuations throughout the year, which can hasten their deterioration.

Chubb recommends storing fragile valuables in another part of the house that is not subject to extreme hot or cold temperatures. Client attics also should be equipped with alarm systems to detect smoke, water leaks and extreme temperatures.

Chubb Personal Insurance’s Home Appraisal Service conducts complimentary appraisals of many customers’ homes. Its 160 appraisers help customers estimate the cost to rebuild their home in the event of a total loss. The appraisers also offer security, fire-prevention and safety advice that can help prevent losses and that may qualify for premium credits.

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